Kenneth Franklin Shinzato Sentenced to Life for Japan Rape, Murder

  • Kenneth Franklin Shinzato Sentenced to Life for Japan Rape, Murder

Kenneth Franklin Shinzato Sentenced to Life for Japan Rape, Murder

A former United States marine based in Japan's south-western island of Okinawa was yesterday sentenced to life in prison for the rape and murder of a local woman.

Kenneth Franklin Shinzato was found guilty of assaulting and killing a 20-year-old local woman last year.

Shinzato pleaded guilty to rape resulting in death and abandoning the body but did not plead guilty to murder.

A panel in Naha District Court handed down the sentence to Shinzato, with Judge Toshihiro Shibata saying there was no room for leniency.

The American said that he did not mean to kill her by hitting her on the head, but later stabbed her and disposed of her body in the woods when she died.

The crime sparked huge demonstrations against USA military bases in Okinawa Prefecture and fueled calls for a reduction in the prefecture's burden of hosting the bulk of US military facilities in Japan.

In recent weeks those who want the US base to leave Okinawa have been inflamed again by the death of a truck driver killed when an American Marine crashed into him.

Crimes committed by American service members around the base at Okinawa have always been a source of tension between the two nations.

Half of about 50,000 American troops stationed in Japan are on Okinawa.

Last year, Japanese Prime Minister Shinzo Abe protested to then-President Barack Obama after Shimabukuro's murder. In 1995, mass anti-U.S. protests erupted on the island after a 12-year-old schoolgirl was raped by three US service members.

The Marine, Nicholas James McLean, was arrested for the crash and for driving under the influence of alcohol.

Friday's sentence capped the end of a public trial that enraged many on the island of Okinawa, where some 47,000 USA troops are stationed. The U.S. military responded by imposing a drinking ban for personnel in Japan on or off base.